St James Bike Project

Feb 23, 2024

The Live and Move Local Active Lives survey shows us that whilst young people in Exeter (those aged 16-34) are now more active than they were pre-Covid, the numbers of people cycling has decreased since this time. Helping residents to use active travel routes to get around the city is therefore important to us, and much of this starts with helping young people in Exeter to maintain their bikes, and to use them confidently.

In January 2022, St James School in Exeter introduced an enrichment programme, offering all pupils in the school the chance to try new activities that do not form part of the traditional curriculum. Live and Move is delighted to have supported the bike maintenance elective. The 12-week course includes basic tasks such as puncture repairs and general safety checks and moves on to more technical issues such as brake cable replacements.

Live and Move supports this exciting project by funding a member of staff from local cycling charity Ride On, together with work stands, tools and high vis vests.

Our ongoing evaluation work told us that the project was popular, indeed it is often over-subscribed, and that some past participants had begun to cycle to school and around the city because of attending the programme. A case study conducted by our evaluation partner SERIO about the project also told us that it was a real highlight of the week for those taking part, and that it had a huge impact on those attending feeling empowered and more confident. Students had even fixed four bikes that belonged to teachers, enabling them to also start cycling to and from the school.

But it wasn’t enough to just receive an evaluation report about this ongoing project; we wanted to go along and see for ourselves.

We visited the school just before the Christmas holidays started. It was the final session of that 12-week block, and the pupils were working hard to get their bike maintenance projects finished before the end of term.

The atmosphere in the classroom was one of peace and calm – not necessarily what one might expect just before the Christmas holidays! Students were fully engaged in their work but were happy to chat about what they were individually working on.

Assistant Headteacher Steve Brown, says that bike maintenance has been a popular enrichment session since starting in 2022.

He added: “Working with students in this way each Wednesday has been a real highlight to our working week. We get to know them on a different level, as we work together to solve problems. It’s been wonderful to see so many pupils, not necessarily those you might expect, taking part in something like this, not only enjoying the course but really excelling at it.”

Live and Move is currently working with staff at the school to enabling this course to continue. We look forward to providing further updates soon.

Thank you so much everybody involved in the bike project at St James School – we look forward to seeing you whizzing around the cycle paths of Exeter soon!